Rio Grande silvery minnows spawn in Big Bend

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By Sue M. Holmes

ALBUQUERQUE — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Rio Grande silvery minnows stocked in the Big Bend area of the river in Texas have successfully spawned — a step in establishing the endangered fish outside the middle Rio Grande in New Mexico.

Biologists identified the river’s Big Bend reach as the most likely spot to support the fish in the species’ historic range.

Officials released 445,000 silvery minnows from New Mexico breeding facilities in 2008 in Big Bend Ranch State Park, Big Bend National Park and a privately owned conservation area. They released 509,000 more last year.

This spring, they collected eggs from that part of the river to see what species were spawning, and identified some silvery minnow eggs.

That doesn’t mean the restoration project is successful, “but it’s a first step, the first milestone we have to reach to document that it will succeed,” said Jason Remshardt, Fish and Wildlife’s supervisory biologist for the minnow.

Project officials expected the species would spawn at some point, but “that it happened this year was a little unexpected,” he said.

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